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I am still in the middle of Season 1 of Vikings, so its very well possible that this is a plot point being explained later. Maybe I just missed it.

From the start, I always assumed that Bjorn was Ragnar's biological son. He certainly raises him like one and I recall them calling each other son and father respectively.

However, Ragnar is extremely happy when his wife Lagertha tells him that she is pregnant, saying that he is sure that it will be a son.

When the unborn child dies, Ragnar is afraid that "he will never have a son" and it becomes apparent that he and Lagertha already tried many times without success to have another (?) son.

What is going on? I can understand why Ragnar would want a son so desperately (as a successor), but what doesn't he have one already? Also why do Ragnar and Lagertha keep talking like they have not been able to have a son yet?

In the temple in Upsala Lagertha prays to Odin:

Do as you will with me, make me blind or death if you want. But give me a son...before it's too late!

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Is Bjorn not Ragnar's son? Or is he from another woman? Why would that matter?

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1 Answer 1

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From the Vikings Wiki:

The Seer had once prophesized that Ragnar will have many sons. Bjorn is the first of these.

As time goes on, he becomes more and more frustrated that he hasn't been graced with more sons.

Remember, given the era as well, multiple children would have been common - especially boys. This historical page about Viking life states:

A typical woman probably bore 7 infants during her lifetime, 29 months apart on average. During pregnancy, women were expected to continue working. After the child's birth, the mother typically returned to work with little delay. Evidence suggests that mothers nursed their children until the age of 2 years, which may have dictated the interval between the births of a couple's children. A typical couple probably had 2 or 3 living children at any one time. Few parents lived to see their children marry. And fewer lived to see their first grandchild. Three generation families were rare.

So to answer your questions: Bjorn is indeed the true son of Ragnar. And Ragnar is indeed extremely frustrated that the prophecy of his many sons doesn't seem to be coming to fruition with Lagertha.

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Any idea why he is so frustrated? Because it would be socially bad? Or because the Seer's prophecy would be wrong? Would be nice to have some more insight into his motivations. –  atticae Mar 11 at 23:40
    
Also, do you have any idea in which episode that scene with the seer happened? –  atticae Mar 11 at 23:40
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He is probably frustrated because the low survival expectancy makes it easy for his line to be broken if he has only one son. Observe the cited text: "7 infants during her lifetime", but only "2 or 3 living children at any one time". –  Vedran Šego Mar 12 at 3:00
    
That makes sense, I guess. Good answer, thank you. –  atticae Mar 12 at 12:59

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